Small Group Questions

A New You for a New Decade: The prayer that changes you. 

Introduction:

The most important part of the day is the time alone with God. It may not take the most time, but it is the most important part of my day. If you read through the Bible, this was the habit of all the great people of God.  David had a quiet time in the morning and so did Samuel. And Elijah, Elisha and of course, Jesus.  It was His pattern to get up in the morning and to go out and spend time alone, praying to the Father. The Bible says this in Psalm 5:3 “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”   

Something To Talk About:

It’s called a lot of different things.  It’s called a quiet time.  It’s called a morning devotion.  It’s called daily devotions. The name is not important. What is important is that you spend five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, half an hour alone with God and when you pray, consider:  

  1. Think about how much God loves me: The first thing you do in a time alone with God is to think about how much God loves you. You don’t think about your problems, or your to-do list, your successes or failures.  You don’t think about all you’ve got to do.  You don’t think about your goals. You think about how much God loves you. Do you want unshakeable, unmistakable, unbreakable proof that God loves you? Look no further than Jesus dying for you on the cross. On that bloody, splintered cross, God himself died for you. God. Died. For. You. Ponder the enormity of those words. The King of Kings was humiliated for you. Because God loves you more than you could possibly imagine. Jesus willingly went to the cross for you. Why? Because God loves you so very, very much. When you know that God loves you, it frees you to experience His power and grace through the day.  
  2. Offer all my life to be used for His purposes: In other words, we surrender to God’s will, His purpose. We tell people we are surrendered. In prayer, we tell God, “Okay, I’m surrendering. So where do we go from here?”  But in reality, we are still trying to control too much. We think and do too much because things aren’t progressing the way we thought they should. It is very hard to check the ego, surrender, and just see where things go from there. It is not easy to surrender.  We pride ourselves on being strong, resourceful people who get things done no matter what obstacles are put in our way. But there are those times when we are backed into a corner and we have no choice but to surrender to God and His purpose for our lives.   
  3. Tell God I’m expecting Him to meet all my needs: It is safe to say that there will be times in every one of our lives when we will experience a need of some type. Perhaps that need will be material in nature, or it may be emotional or physical. Or we may have spiritual needs. The natural reaction is for us to try to meet our own needs because we live in a very self-sufficient world.  Philippians 4:19 says “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” David in Psalm 37:25 says, “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.”  If God said that He would look after your need, then you can have trust in Him to meet those needs. He’s going to give you enough grace to get through the day.  He will give you the power and energy to get through the day. What else do you need?
  4. Receive God’s forgiveness and release others: We will all be hurt in this life. Many times we’ll be hurt intentionally by what people say about us or what people do to us. Because of how deeply we’ve been hurt, it’s hard to consider forgiving those who hurt us. But the Bible gives us one very important reason we need to forgive. We forgive others because God forgave us. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:32, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Reflect on how much God has forgiven you, and it’ll cause you to be more forgiving of those who have hurt you. God has completely wiped your sin slate clean because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. All of the things you deserve to be paid back for have been cleared away because God has forgiven you. Own that statement for yourself, and you’ll find it increasingly tough to hold a grudge against someone else. Remember this: no matter what anyone does to you, you’ll never have to forgive any other person more than God has already forgiven you.
  5. Ask God for strength to reach my goals: We all have goals. Many of those goals will never be reached without God’s help.  Philippians 4:13 says, “For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.”  Why?  Because Christ is inside me.  I can plug into that power. I can do everything. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” The temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. We all go through the exact same temptations.  We’re all in the same boat.  God is faithful and will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can stand up against it.  And when you are tempted He will show you a way out so you will not give into it. 
  6. Thank God for the ultimate victory: Thank God that no matter what happens in my life today, ultimately we will have the ultimate victory.  One day there’s going to be no more pain or suffering in my life. One day God is going to solve it all. One day I’m going to heaven and nobody can take that from me. Romans 8:38 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Our fears for today can’t.  Our worries about tomorrow can’t. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the ultimate victory over death and the grave. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. When people talk about quiet times, they are usually referring to two things: prayer and Bible study. Of those two, which seems to be the most important? Why?  Which of these two seem to be the most difficult for you? Why?
  2. Describe your daily conversations with God. What types of things do you regularly pray for?
  3. Did you grow up knowing the Lord’s Prayer? Was it something you simply recited out of memory or did it have meaning for you? Explain. 
  4. What different ways have you tried to intentionally connect with God? Were some more meaningful or impactful than others? Why do you think that might be?
  5. Why do we tend to put our priorities over God’s when we pray? What are some ways we can make our priorities the same as God’s?
  6. What strength does it give you to know of love’s ultimate victory?
  7. What would it take for you to make prayer a priority in your life?
  8. Describe how God’s forgiveness has changed your life. 
  9. What are some creative ideas for keeping your quiet times fresh?
  10. How does He has “hidden God’s Word in his heart” apply to quiet time?
  11. What are the biggest obstacles keeping you from praying and studying the Bible on a daily basis?
  12. What is one thing God is speaking to you through this message?

Take one thing home with you:

Prayer is simply talking to God—and the most important thing I can say about this is that God wants you to talk to Him! He loves us and He has promised to hear us when we pray  Prayer is a conversation. It doesn’t have to be a running conversation.  It does not have to be flowery or elegant. It’s not the amount of words you say in prayer that makes it work. When we decide to talk with God, we should find a quiet spot. Jesus instructed His followers to go into a room and shut the door to enjoy privacy in communication with God. Eliminate all distractions if possible. Remember, God wants to hear from His children. We do not need to be embarrassed in any way when we come to Him in prayer.

Try to set aside a regular time of the day to pray. This can help prevent all the activities of life from crowding out our time with God. Making prayer part of our daily schedule can help us fulfill our commitment. The Bible tells us both King David and the prophet Daniel found time to pray three times a day (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). Of course, we can go to God at any time; we don’t need an appointment.

Then all we have to do is start talking.